I just read where a new type of earworm is making its way north from South and Central America where it’s been devastating a variety of crops. The insect, Helicoverpa armigera, is a cousin of the earworm but is potentially much more damaging, attacking not only corn but soybeans, cereals, vegetables and flowers as well. The bad news: Insecticides aren’t effective on this critter, as it’s developed resistance to all classes of insecticides that have been tried on it. Almost $1 billion of U.S. crops are in the areas most susceptible to H. armigera, many times this depending on how extensive its eventual spread.
The good news: The one control that seems to work is crops genetically engineered to contain the Bt gene. Bt cotton resists this insect pest, and entomologists think that Bt corn and Bt soybeans will be similarly resistant. Something to keep in mind as some in society are in favor of outlawing all genetically engineered crops. (I think that those of us in agriculture would do well to start referring to these crops as “genetically enhanced”, because that’s just what they are.) Not a new idea of course, but the timing seems right.